After scoring only a couple of tries in the past few weeks, the misfiring Eels seemed to find they rhythm, confidence and long lost luck against the Cowboys last night.
But is it all good news for the Parramatta outfit that was equal premiership favourite before a ball was kicked in 2010?
Well, while it’s a step in the right direction – it seems all the focus by the Eels to reignite their attack has taken away from their League best defence somewhat.
Prior to losing heavily to the Warriors, the Eels despite being unable to score points – were working well for each other in defence and led the NRL in terms of points conceded.
Their scrambling defence has been a positive in a year of frustration. But despite beating the Cowboys by 12 points, the Eels bled a quickfire 18 points as a JT inspired comeback gave the North Queenslanders a chance to steal the game.
Now while leading at 30-6 the Eels could be forgiven for ‘clocking off’, especially after only managing single digit scores in the past 3 weeks. But it seems Parramatta will know soon enough, with a stern test this Saturday against the high-flying Panthers.
Despite only winning 2 games in the past month and a half, the Eels have been served well by rookie prop Tim Mannah. The youngster earning a NSW Origin call-up and adding to muscle alongside Fui Fui Moi Moi in the Parramatta engine-room.
You see, the Eels forwards have actually been eating up more metres than their opponents in recent weeks. The side has also enjoyed more possession in some instances, it’s simply been a case of being unable to score tries.
The touch-football style match against the Cowboys, despite plenty of dropped ball – could be the catalyst for Jarryd Hayne to rediscover his 2009 try-scoring form. The NSW fullback was highly active in the game, went over for 3 tries and his performance offers plenty of encouragement to teammates.
Their dream run of 2009 is often talked about in League circles, but many have to realise that Parramatta while playing an attractive, risky brand of footy at the backend of 2009 – were fortunate in many areas.
The Eels certainly put themselves in a position to win, but most passes stuck, the ball bounced for them and all those 50/50 calls seemed to drop their way.
The stars align like that for only so long in the NRL.
So it’s certainly too early for the Parramatta faithful to start getting too excited just yet. Again, their opponents this weekend in the Panthers will really test the Eels out on the fringes and in the air – their relentless peppering with high balls and probing grubbers will be keeping Luke Burt and Jarryd Hayne extremely busy.
The only good news might be for punters, who can get long odds on the Eels to make the Grand Final. A few fearless investors got decent paydays from the long-range bet this time last year.